North London derby day is upon us as the battle for local supremacy between Tottenham and Arsenal resumes once more, however it is not just bragging rights that the two clubs will be competing for as the result come half past two could have serious ramifications in the race for the Champions League places.
For Tottenham it is a chance to apply the pressure on both Liverpool and Chelsea as a win would see them go third in the table for at least 24 hours and leaving the ball very much in the court of their two closest rivals, while a win for Arsenal would keep their hopes of a top four finish very much alive.
Defeat for the Gunners this lunchtime and the likelihood of them returning to Europe’s premier club competition next season after a one year hiatus would look remote although not still impossible, with them already on the outside looking in in sixth they cannot afford to offer up any more ground in the battle to finish in the top four.
While for Mauricio Pochettino’s men it will be the chance to extend their impressive form as of late, something that they managed to do last weekend when they traveled to Liverpool and snatched a point in the most dramatic circumstances possible.
It was a game that could have seen Tottenham come away with no points, its should have been three but in the end they snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat, something that had they not managed to do with have been a very harsh outcome on Merseyside.
Liverpool fans will feel that Spurs were given not one but two get out of jail free cards in the way of the penalties that were awarded in their favour, while fans of the North London outfit will feel that John Moss and his assistant got the decisions spot on.
Harry Kane who eventually got to 100 Premier League goals on Merseyside, spurned the opportunity to make it 101 after seeing the first of his efforts saved by Loris Karius, but it just goes to show the measure of the man that he had the composure to tuck his second one away in the 95th minute and earn his side a point.
Arsenal have finally put the Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil contract sagas behind them, by selling the former and making the latter the highest paid player in the clubs history, in doing so their fortunes have been revitalised although the two new signings that Arsene Wenger made have helped also.
That is because Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been an instant success since their moves from Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund, admittedly the Armenian international ‘Miki’ played in that defeat to Swansea at the end of January but it was the thrashing they handed Everton last weekend which showed what they can be capable of.
They ran Everton ragged seven days ago as they strolled to a 5-1 win at the Emirates and although there is no doubting the influence that the two new faces had it was Aaron Ramsey who won the majority of the plaudits after scoring a hat-trick.
That has given Arsene Wenger something of a tough decision as it would be harsh to drop the Welsh international after his goal scoring exploits but he does have Jack Wilshere ready to return from injury, so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod this time around.
Another injury returnee could well be Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld, the Belgian international made his long awaited return to the team in midweek as the club finally progressed to the 5th Round of the F.A. Cup after a 2-0 win over Newport County at Wembley.
The decision that Mauricio Pochettino will have to make is whether or not to go with a back three and drop Hueng min-Son or whether he goes with the same formation as of late and gives Davinson Sanchez a rest after what has been a couple of nervy performances as of late.
If Son was to be dropped then it would be harsh on the South Korean who has been instrumental in Tottenham’s form as of late, he may not have offered too much against Manchester United and Liverpool recently but you get the feeling he has done enough to get the nod today.
Tottenham will not just be looking for three points today they will also be looking for revenge after being dealt a 2-0 defeat in the reverse fixture back in November 2017, that game showed just how evident it was that they struggle to turn up for the big games away from home.
But after their second half performance last weekend you get the feeling that they have gone some way to ridding that millstone from their neck, not only that but with them being at home – a place they have not lost at since August then they go into this game as slight favourites.
A position that they are not perhaps used to being in so maybe that will turn the tables somewhat, is this a scenario that Tottenham are used to and how will they handle it. On the flipside will Arsenal relish being the underdogs for a change.
Arsenal were very impressive back in November but as a whole this season their away form has been the reason why they find themselves 6th in the table this season, that said regardless of league form and position you know they are going to raise their game later on.
With all the attacking talent on offer you get the feeling this is going to be a very interesting game for the neutral, for fans of either club this is the culmination of a build up that has been taking place for weeks and perhaps even months.
Ask either a Tottenham and Arsenal fan right now and they will probably tell you they will be glad when it is all over and normality is restored. Just who will come out on top though, well if you have a form book they have a habit of going out of the window on days like today so a prediction is almost futile. I’ll see you on the other side